The Minnesota Vikings came off their bye week picking up where they left off in week six, beating the Arizona Cardinals (3-5) 34-26. The Vikings are now 6-1 for the first time to start a season since 2009. Minnesota ran the ball well, racking up 173 yards and three touchdowns and Za’Darius Smith embraced his inner Jared Allen tallying three sacks as the Vikings welcomed the legend into their Ring of Honor. With that let’s take a look at my Minnesota Vikings week 8 takeaways.
The Offensive Line Is Becoming A Problem
The offensive line has struggled, specifically in their pass protection. They’ve had their moments when they were able to provide good protection and did very well in the run game, but Cousins was under too much pressure today.
Isaiah Simmons with the strip sack and fumble recovery!!! pic.twitter.com/n6CZqo5M4D
— Austin Pendergist (@apthirteen) October 30, 2022
Isaiah Simmons blew past Ed Ingram forcing a fumble and recovering it, leading to an Arizona field goal. Cousins was also sacked three times for -24 yards. He was sacked twice on third down ending a pair of three-and-out drives. It’s a different story when the play calling doesn’t work or something else, but you can’t be giving up sacks on third-down to end drives. The offensive line needs to step up and give Cousin’s time, so he doesn’t get sacked or have to throw it away, especially with stiffer competition in the coming weeks.
The Defense All Things Considered Played Very Well
Yes, I did see that touchdown by Rondale Moore, and that was some ugly tackling, but that was a mistake not a consistency issue. De’Andre Hopkins made some fabulous catches. Most of what went wrong for the Vikings defensively (if you’d even say that) was more of great plays by great players for the Cardinals.
I think De’Andre Hopkins is good at this football thing. pic.twitter.com/iXXb8g5xZF
— Vendetta Media (@VendettaVSM) October 30, 2022
I mean, that’s just a great throw and catch. Anyways, the Vikings defense gave up 375 yards of total offense (297 passing and 78 rushing). They held the Cardinals to 4-for-11 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth. They also had four sacks for -29 yards (three by Za’Darius Smith) on a very mobile Kyler Murray. The defense gave up a lot of yards and points, but that was expected against a Cardinals team in their second game having Hopkins back. All-in-all they looked much better off the bye week getting key stops when needed.
The Vikings were again a turnover machine, getting three turnovers in Sunday’s win. Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum had interceptions, while Troy Dye recovered a fumble. The Vikings only got seven points off their three turnovers, able to capitalize on one of their three opportunities. In their upcoming games the Vikings will need to take advantage of all their turnovers, getting some sort of points off of them.
The Offense Still Can’t Find Their Rhythm
The Vikings offense was hit or miss again. The Vikings scored on five of their 13 drives including four three and outs. They did have a fumble and Greg Joseph kicked a 56-yard field goal into the back of his own linemen. Yes, they had times where they were just firing on all cylinders (like their opening drive), and other moments when they were floundering opportunities whether that’d be turnovers or going three-and-out in their last two drives in failed attempts to seal the game.
Now, the offense was productive. They had 381 yards of total offense with 208 passing and 173 rushing, finding some balance. They were 6-for-13 on third down and had 25 first downs. They also went 5-for-5 in the red zone and possessed the ball for 29:27 minutes. The one stat that stands out the most is being 100% in the red zone. This is such a great statistic to have. If they can keep it up, they’ll be tough to stop inside the 20.
But The Run Game Was Great
The Vikings finally got the run game going today and Dalvin Cook led the way. Cook had 20 carries for 111 yards and one touchdown, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. It was Cook’s first 100-yard rushing game of the season. Alexander Mattison got involved as well with 40 yards and a touchdown, as did Kirk Cousins who rushed for 22 yards and score.
The team totaled 173 yards on the ground, finding most of their success there instead of in the air (though they did have a decent game passing). If the Vikings can continue their rushing success it would be huge in helping them find balance on offense, pairing perfectly with an inconsistent yet potentially lethal passing attack.
A Look Ahead
The Vikings next week travel to D.C. to take on the Washington Commanders (4-4) who had a come from behind win on the road against the Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1) 17-16 Sunday afternoon.
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